Wednesday, January 11, 2017

THE DIAMOND HEAD DECEPTION by James Blakley - Review and Giveaway

The Diamond Head Deception
by James Blakley


GENRE: Mystery/Thriller



After putting Iowa crop insurance cheats out to pasture, independent insurance fraud investigator Luna Nightcrow heads to Hawaii, but not for a vacation. The Shilpa, an Indian ocean liner, sinks and Luna is hired to determine if it still carries "Pacific Splendor" (a rare diamond insured for $15 million). The trouble is that Luna's not the only one looking for the diamond. Secessionists, sportsmen, and other suspects might sink to any depths to recover or smother Pacific Splendor.



The Diamond Head Deception has something that I often find missing in other mysteries. We are a diverse country but often you do not find that diversity in popular mysteries. Not true in this book. It is filled with people of different racial backgrounds. Not only are there a very large number of side characters they are some of the best fleshed out that I have read lately. Luna Nightcrow is a fraud investigator and comes to Hawaii to see if a very valuable diamond went down with the ship and if so is it still there. She is not the only one to wonder. What follows is an exciting journey that starts in a low key manner and ramps up as the story progresses. The book is well-written. There is a very nice flow to the story and the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat. While the book is only a little over 200 pages the story is so tightly written that everything fell in place before a very satisfying ending.


Rupee suddenly stopped and look around suspiciously. “Perhaps it is no longer safe to talk here.”

Luna cast an eye over the lounge and noticed a hefty, Hawaiian-looking man standing in the far corner behind them. He wore a tuxedo and was probably just checking out Rupee’s. But the scowl that he shot at them meant that he either didn’t like Rupee’s taste in tux or his taste in women. This might turn out to be a dangerous drink! Luna worried. But looking back at Rupee, she saw that he was still visibly shaken. I’ve got to be the strong one, Luna decided. So, she dragged a red fingernail up and down the back of Rupee’s hand. “Where do you suggest we talk, if not here?”

Rupee’s eyes widened. “Well, this is a hotel; so, it does have rooms,” he suggested.
Luna’s eyebrow cocked curiously. “Where’s yours, Rupee?” she asked softly.
A smile returned to Rupee’s face and he answered, “It’s a big one, Luna, way up high.”

Just what a girl likes to hear! Luna thought.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

James Blakley was educated at Missouri Western State College and Washburn University. While at MWSC, he was a local and national award-winning columnist and section editor of "The Griffon-News." Blakley worked 10 1/2 years as a page and as an Assistant Librarian for the River Bluffs Regional Libraries of St. Joseph, MO. He currently lives in Topeka, KS where he worked for The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and several years in clerical and customer support capacities for international computer companies, such as EDS and HP.



James will be awarding a $50 Walmart gift card to a randomly drawn winner (US ONLY) via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

JC Jones said...

I really enjoyed your book and love having you on my blog.

Victoria Alexander said...

It's been fun following the tour for The Diamond Head Deception, I've enjoyed reading all of the posts along the way. Thanks for sharing :)

Bernie Wallace said...

What books are you interested in reading in 2017? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

James Blakley said...

I appreciate your hosting "The Diamond Head Deception", JC, and also for your thorough review that fully captures the multicultural aspects of the story--aspects that won it Finalist for Multicultural Fiction in the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards competition.

James Blakley said...

JC wrote a compelling review of "The Diamond Head Deception" on Goodreads. Among other things, it identified the novel's recognition of our "diverse country." This is something I worked hard to create in "The Diamond Head Deception": Diners of different races who are allowed chances to sit in the mainstream and enjoy the hearty entertainment smorgasbord of over the top hero, heroine, romantic lead, and villain that have outright been denied or spooned out sparingly to them. And the brightest, most engaging personality at the table is a rather unique character in the mystery-thriller genre: A contemporary Native American (American Indian) heroine.

Native Americans (American Indians) are arguably pop culture's least represented and statically portrayed racial group. Whereas blacks and Asians have risen from stereotypical roles in literature and film to become prominent, groundbreaking characters, Native Americans are still rarely afforded more than pigeonholed parts in Westerns or as solemn spiritualists/naturalists.

I wanted Luna Nightcrow to break from that mold, and she does in key ways. The most important being that while some aspects of her Cherokee heritage are explored in the series, they don't drive the stories. This gives the reader a view of Native Americans as fully modern and capable of having an impact on any part of society that they choose. For example, Luna is cosmopolitan, not relegated to traditionally-explored Native American settings. Yet, like many minority groups, she draws strength from her cultural history and uses it to better herself and the perspective others have of Native Americans.

Writing about another race or gender can be tough. Luckily, as a black man, I have a lot of sympathy [for Native Americans] going in that was fairly easy to convey. That includes the obvious shared struggle for inclusion and success among the majority culture. Also, the Midwest (particularly my section of it) is home to many Native American communities. However, I still had to research many different aspects of Native America, in order to try and give a fair and respectful presentation. This meant not only delving into the different Cherokee nations, but also getting an overarching idea of how many Native Americans view themselves in today's society. In the end, the key word that remained with me is "human": Native Americans are capable of the same greatness and blunders as any of us and want to be treated [portrayed] as such.

In a way, I think Luna Nightcrow resembles "Shaft." What?! Let me explain. The breakout movie role of an independent, dynamic black hero wasn't originally written by a black man, but instead a white man (Ernest Tidyman). And while not immune to some lingering cliches, the "Shaft" novels, movies, and short-lived TV series were a much-needed collective shift from the generations of step-and-fetch roles for blacks. In the long run, it helped blaze the trail for blacks to craft greater stories and characters about ourselves or to be considered for mainstream roles.

Likewise, Luna Nightcrow is written by a non-Native American. I strive to present her in a way that might make Native Americans proud, but realize that there are things I may miss or misrepresent. For example, whether to use "Native American" or "American Indian" as how Luna identifies herself led me to much research. While I came to a decision that Luna can justify choosing, based largely on her age, it may be one that strikes a negative connotation to Native American readers.

Overall, I still enjoy the challenge of writing outside my race and gender. Native Americans deserve greater consideration for romantic, sci-fi, and other mainstream roles that other races have fought for and finally flourished in. While Luna Nightcrow is not a perfect attempt, maybe she will give Native Americans a model by which to continue to create even greater interpretations of themselves in popular fiction.

James Blakley said...

Joseph, I look forward to reading more self-published and small press-published authors this year.

In addition to the writings of favorites Lior Samson ("Flight Check") and W.T. Keeton ("Serpent at the Plain of Panope"), I also enjoy reading those of Nigel G. Mitchell. Mitchell is a prolific fellow black author who rises above some of the stereotypes sometimes attributed to us. For example, his techno-thriller novel "Dead Links" is helmed by an intelligent black female protagonist who enters the world of computer addiction and conspiracy. Mitchell also writes a variety of colorful sci-fi and humorous allegory (best encapsulated in an anthology called "Quantum Tales: Volume 2). I have his "Quantum Tales: Volume 1" on my 2017 TBR list.

Unknown said...

Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

Ally Swanson said...

Congrats again on the new book! I enjoyed following the tour and reading this book!